Saturday, November 13, 2004

union-a-go-go

1. From the Silicon Valley guilds Benson writes about to the "open-source unionism" advocated by Joel Rogers, there's a sense of the union becoming less of an agent for change and more of a career training center/social group/symbol. Yet there seems to be some optimism and enthusiasm about this as the future face of unionism. Is it false hope? If you don't have collective bargaining, what do you have that makes a real difference in the lives of workers?

2. Let's say we had us a genuine, organized, fully funded collaborative effort involving all American unions to unionize Wal-Mart. How could this movement work with international Wal-Mart unions to improve its chances for success? In general, how can union organizing become more global in nature, and what kinds of results might we expect?

3. The idea that technology and information workers aren't usually a good fit for unionization efforts has come up a number of times this semester in the readings. Whether because of tenuous professional status of the workers, or the instability of the labor market in this field, or because workers are employing "exit strategy" rather than "voice strategy," the traditional union model doesn't work as well in this field. What will unions need to do to fit this labor force? Do these workers even have any desire to unionize?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Rural Outsourcing

The solution to offshore outsourcing? Help for rural economies wanting to enter the Creative Class? Who knows?

Questions, unionism articles

  1. I was intrigued by the extent to which Featherstone and Benner were willing to admit that unions have made their own bed. (Lucore, conversely, was all like, "Of course unions use IT! We're not backward! Really! [But those darn members, when they get together and talk, that's bad, you know...]") Are unions listening to this criticism? How are they changing because of it?

  2. From my undereducated perspective, it seems to me that unions clung to largely-male preserves as much as they possibly could, bypassing any employment territory that might contain (gasp!) women. To what extent is women's greater participation in the labor market relative to men a source of unions' membership attrition?

  3. Following Benner's analysis, what other new services could unions provide that would help their members and reduce membership attrition? (Dare one suggest HEALTH INSURANCE?)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I don't think this is the mobility Florida has in mind...

$17 an Hour Technology's Nomads

Slowdown Forces Many to Wander for Work
IT Unemployment Now Exceeds Overall Jobless Rate

By Greg SchneiderWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, November 9, 2004; Page A01

YORK, Pa. -- David Packman knocks on the motel room door and his wife lets him in. His 9-year-old son is waiting with sneakers on, hoping for a trip outside after a day of sitting around. Packman's other son, 4, dances gleefully around the room. Dad's home from work.
This is no holiday getaway; this motel room, for the moment, is where the family lives. Packman, 34, is one month into a four-month contract fixing computers at a local company, and one day closer to the end of the line. It's Monday, and the $50 in Packman's pocket will have to cover food, laundry and incidentals for the coming week.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35193-2004Nov8.html

Monday, November 08, 2004

Meeting of minds re Florida, 3rd try

Appreciating the previous blogs and anticipating Florida's conclusion from halfway through:

1. Florida implies that the creative class can move freely from job to job in defiance of universally incompetent management in search of greater autonomy. How do they make a living, pay for their health care, save, guarantee their retirement? Is he totally goofed, or does he not recognize that to enjoy this much autonomy requires a sizeable support community? Who might that include, besides his ever helpful service workers, Porsche-driving hair-dressers, et al.? How does educational background factor into shaping the creative class as Florida defines it, and how will the increasing exclusion of low-income people from college education shape this class in the future?

2. Noting that Florida's tables show that members of the greater Creative Class make more money on average than the Super-creative core, what happened to the Sciences/Humanities split that everybody was talking about in the late 1980s? Do Scientists/Techs and Humanists suddenly have common economic interests? And if so, why are the financial rewards of the two paths so disparate?

3. Getting at Florida from two different angles: would any of us choose to have a cappuccino with Florida? Is he an agent-provocateur for cultural conservatives? (Consider all the players in a regulated capitalist economy who are missing from his world.)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Questions for a Creative Class

Did anyone else have trouble with Blogger earlier today? Maybe I'm just not creative enough - just one more idiot drone laboring in the university sweatshop.

And by the way, I certainly hope that pox Dorothea is casting about isn't too contagious!

1. I really really was planning to 'play nice'; then I read this: "Employing millions of people merely to do rote work is a monstrous waste of human capabilities. Someday it may be seen to be as retrograde, both ethically and economically, as compelling humans to pick cotton on a plantation" (321). How do we feel about Prof. Florida's assertion that (paid) rote work is analagous to slavery?

2. Florida assumes that workers have mobility, that they are able to move to the region or city of their choice. Is this a valid assumption? How does this effect his analysis of cities' creative environments? Are certain workers (within the 'creative' groups) more mobile than others?

3. Towards the end of the book, in the small section "beyond nerdistan" on page 284, Florida quotes someone who quotes someone saying "Ask anyone where a downtown is and nobody can tell you. There's not much of a sense of place here...." Is this a problem of not drawing creative class people? Or is it just bad city planning?

4. In what ways does or doesn't Florida understand social services/welfare's role in society?

Did anyone else feel like they were reading a Tony Robbins publication?

I LOVE the idea of the 'whitey index'!!

creative class

1. "Creativity," as Florida uses the term in his book, seems like an elusive label to me. While the trends that Florida bases his arguments on seem to be valid, it is unclear whether they are captured with or how they relate to the concept of creativity. In what ways is creativity linked to job growth as opposed to other factors like the urban/rural divide?

2. Although Florida briefly touches on housework and childcare (he even gives kudos to his maid!), he does not adequetely address how this type of invisible work fits into his hierarchy of the creative class. Does low paid childcare or unpaid housework have a place in his arguement?

3. On a note similar to Mary's question about privelige. Florida bases much of his arguement on statistics showing creative class workers are more concerned with job stimulation then with pay or benefits. With health care cost on the rise, pay and benefits are of growing concern for both lower and middle class workers. Is this a large hole in his arguement or is it not even necessary to address this discrepancy?